It was another great crowd at Lupton, and the Frog faithful were treated to a vintage pitching performance from one of the young stars of a talent-loaded pen in return for braving high heat Sunday afternoon. Jake Eissler turned in the performance of his career, relieving Haylen Green and earning the victory with 5.0 impeccable innings of work.
Things started inauspiciously for TCU, as they fell behind big early for the second consecutive game against the highly ranked Red Raiders. But unlike Saturday night, Texas Tech didn’t get a stellar pitching performance to back up the early offense. Tech struck for four runs in the first off of starter Haylen Green, using four hits, a walk, and a hit by pitch to put up an early crooked number. But the Frogs answered back in the bottom of the frame, as Colton Parrish drew a leadoff walk, Josh Watson singled, and Landestoy loaded the bases with a base hit of his own. Johnny Rizer’s groundout make it a 4-1 game, but the Frogs scored for the first time since Friday and had some momentum on the board.
Tech got the run back with a Josh Jung home run in the second, but that would be the last time they scored in the ball game. Green ended up going 4.0 innings, allowing the five runs on six hits, striking out four, and walking one. He kept the Frogs in the game after the tough start, and the offense woke up enough - with a lot of help - to overcome the early deficit.
In the bottom of the second, TCU went crooked number themselves, with the help of four walks. The Tech pitching wildness was a sign of things to come, as six Red Raider arms combined to walk 14 Frog batters. They threw 195 combined pitches, and just 89 were strikes.
But free passes does not nine runs make, and TCU used timely hitting to take advantage of the gifts. A sac fly by Watson and an RBI single by AJ Balta got TCU within two, and Johnny Rizer drew a bases loaded walk to make it a one run game. An inning later, Conner Shepherd went yard for the fourth time this season, tying things up at five through three.
It wouldn’t stay tied for long.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Frogs led off the inning with a home run for the second straight frame, as Josh Watson blasted one well over the right field fence, into the wind, for his sixth dinger of the year. That would be all the Frogs would need as Eissler took the bump, but they added another run in the fourth and two more in the seventh to give the home team a little cushion.
Eissler was masterful in his 5.0 innings of work, not allowing a single base runner as he set down all 15 batters he faced. His befuddled the Red Raider hitters to the tune of 11 strikeouts, throwing 44 of his career high 63 pitches for strikes, earning the victory on the day, his third of the season.
The win puts TCU back in the mix for a postseason berth, and puts Tech in a tough position as they try and win a second consecutive Big 12 regular season championship. The Red Raiders may also be in danger of getting knocked out of the national seed conversation, but could rectify both with series wins over Texas and Oklahoma to close the conference season. The Frogs now sit at 22-18 overall and 8-9 in conference play, with a home series against WVU and a roadie at Texas to finish their run.